By January

The maple buds began to scaffold
in late fall;
by January they season
the blush bower of winter
within rich anise-star constellations —
like gentle armadillos
they curl around one another,
sheltering their soft underbellies
from the cold,
from the light.

We cannot help
but bow our heads beneath the axils
of these heavenly bodies
while we break a path
through the snow;
so patient, so prescient
they encase their hearts
in fortresses of steely armor . . .
but how soon they will begin
drawing their own blood,
and no others’,
turning sanguine and lusty
toward the brief, important life
that is theirs.

Along the Boulevard,
the Middle Way

Along the boulevard
a solemnity of trees
has grifted —
burning bushes
of suckers
consume them like fire.

We are always
turning into something other
than what we
are cultivated to be —
autumn rains diminish
the hard reign
of our uprighteousness,
leaving us ripe
for wildness,
de- and re-formed.

This is the shape
of faith;
let us bow
to the whirling dervish
of new growth,
listen to it singing
prayers with lips
of bright red buds.

Leave off
your own desire
to prune
for a season;
God is greening
in the places
where you meet the earth.

Photo by Chris Holder.

Meg Muthupandiyan

Meg Muthupandiyan is a poet and pilgrim who lives on the western edge of the Lake Michigan watershed. Her most recent project is a collection of illustrated poetry titled Forty Days in the Wilderness Wandering. It will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Committed to fostering public appreciation for the land communities we belong to, and for creating public access to the power of poetry, she founded the Poetry in the Parks public humanities project in 2019.  Educators, poets, and other creatives are invited to get involved in the project, and can find out more about how at or